People & Culture

This Year I Resolve To... Tips on how to make your resolutions stick

Figure this being the first blog of the new year, I should write about all the great things I'm going to do this year.

First, let's back up a bit. My whole adult life, as long as I can remember, I've always made new year's resolutions. Some years because I thought it was fun, some years because I thought I ought to, some years because I felt I needed a direction. Usually they lasted about 1 week.

Then, about 3 years ago, I figured out how to do it right. This is going to sound silly, but I used Agile frame my new year's resolution creation. Here's what I do each year:

1. Brainstorm. Find a quiet place and set aside some time. At least an hour, more if you can. Think about all the things you'd like to do this year. Write each thing down, one idea per index card. Let the ideas flow, don't stop and think about if it's silly, unattainable, embarrassing. Spend at least 15 minutes doing this, throw all index cards onto the table.

2. Prioritize. Take all of your index cards, put them into piles A (most important), B(great if you can achieve it this year), C( nice to achieve).

3. Clarify. For all the A's, turn each index card into a concrete, measurable, achievable goal (ideally a SMART goal, but at the very least, something you can read and have a clear picture of what it would look like complete).

4. Write Stories. For the A's that are now concrete, add the 'special sauce', as I once heard Jack Daly say. That is, what are you going to do each month, week, day, to implement this goal. Each 'special sauce' is a Story, one per index card please.

5. Make Visible. Pick 3-4 A's to work on first. Hang them on the wall somewhere, along with the Stories for each one.

6. Review. Just like in Agile, have a weekly, biweekly, or monthly review of your achievements. Figure out how you progressed towards your goals. If you finish one, pull another one from the A pile, write Stories, hang it on the wall. Don't move on to the B pile until all A's are finished.

7. Quarterly Kaizen. Every 3 months, pull out all goals, lay them out in one big pile. See how you are doing, adjust as needed. Repeat.

And now, to keep me honest, here's a glimpse of what I want to achieve in 2012:

1. Lose 10 pounds. These are suspiciously similar to the 10 I lost back in 2010, but they seemed to have found me and so I must shake them loose once again. My Stories: Life weights 2 times per week. Do cardio 4 times per week. Eat Clean every day, except for 1 day per week.

2. Get more sleep. My stories: Each weekend, plan the week ahead, ensure I get 8 hours of ZZZs per night by getting in bed 8 hours before I have to wake up. So easy, yet soooooo hard.

3. Complete my ultimate organization plan. My stories: I already have tasks to achieve weekly, and I am staying on top of them. The problems are the ones that never seem to have to get done, which are often the things I find fun. My stories: Pick one fund task each week, leave about an hour to work towards it. Admit to the fact that many of my 'Someday, Maybe' tasks, like learning how to play the sax, are not going to get done this year. Files those away for 2013.

Happy 2012, and good luck with your goals!